The 2013 Haikou World Open will run from February 25 to March 3 on Hainan Island in China.
The World snooker tour travels back out to the Far East for the start of the Haikou World Open which begins at 2.30pm on Monday afternoon local time (06.30 GMT). 12 months ago Antrim’s Mark Allen captured his first full ranking title by hammering Wiltshire’s Stephen Lee, 10-1, in the final and constructing four century breaks in the match. As the defending champion and number one seed for the tournament Allen will be joining the 39 other players in the competition and will be aiming to keep hold of the silverware he collected one year ago.
The tournaments in this part of the World often throw up shock results; two decades ago Stoke veteran Dave Harold won his only ranking title when he triumphed in the 1993 Asian Open, in Bangkok, and started out at 500/1 with the bookmakers, this still stands as the longest priced winner of a full ranking event in snooker history, in 2008 Chester’s Ricky Walden laid his hands on the Shanghai Masters trophy taking it off Welshman Dominic Dale who was victorious in 2007.
Surprisingly Bristol’s Judd Trump, who also won his maiden event in the 2011 China Open, is back at the top of the betting at 15/2 (bet £2 to make £15 profit) which offers marginally better value on quality performers further down the pecking order and after scouring through the evidence available two players look to be slightly overpriced. Manchester based Shaun Murphy, the 2005 World Champion, can be backed at 14/1 (bet £1 to win £14) with numerous firms and China’s own superstar Ding Junhui who is on offer at 16/1 (bet £1 to win £16) with Betfred both look enticing investment opportunities.
Former UK champion Murphy is a player of undoubted class and although so far this season he is yet to be the last man standing in an event he has been ploughing a rich vein of form. To date he has won 37 of the 63 matches he has contested (58.7%) and last December had his best run in any event this current campaign by losing 10-6 to Leicester’s Mark Selby in the Final of the William Hill UK snooker championship at the Barbican centre in York. The 2011 Players Tour Championship champion reached the semi finals of the Masters in January but his most encouraging results for Murphy backers have come in China where he has lost in the semi finals of the Shanghai Masters, 6-3 to eventual winner, John Higgins, and also the last four of the International Championship, 9-5, to the Australian Neil Robertson.
Murphy has such belief in his technique and himself that occasionally he could be accused of pushing the boat out too far by taking on questionable shot choices but he gives 110% in every match he plays and if everything clicks into place he is one of the toughest players to beat on the tour.
China’s Ding Junhui is the greatest snooker player ever to come from Asia, since turning professional in 2003 he has won five full ranking events, two of which have been the UK championship in 2005 and 2009. He is the youngest player ever to win three ranking titles, and the only one other than John Higgins to do so before his 20th birthday, his exceptional talent is obvious. At his very best he has arguably the best cue ball control amongst the games “top 16” players and when in prime break building territory his white ball is not any more than two feet away from the object ball he is attempting to pot which makes him an effortless compiler of century breaks as his 274 three figure contributions and four 147 maximum breaks so far during his 10 years amongst the paid ranks clearly shows. He has won just one ranking event in his own country, in 2005, where he breezed past the six times World champion Stephen Hendry 9-5 in the final of the China Open. He has not been handed the easiest of draws as he is in the same half of the draw as John Higgins, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen but if the Ding can play somewhere near to the top of his game and the draw can open up for him the 18/1 is a tempting proposition on a player who appears to fear no one and will want to impress on home soil for sure.
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